our travel group: Jeff (A Cote, Oakland), Frank & Stetson (BDW), Santos (Bacaro LA), Pamela (CAV, San Francisco).
For three days every other year, a wing of the Hofburg imperial palace in Vienna turns into the national wine cellar, as hundreds of Austrian wine producers (and some from other lands) come to pour their wines for an international gathering of trade, press, and colleagues. A small group of five supporters of Blue Danube Wine and specifically of Austrian wine was there to investigate.
It is difficult to imagine the Habsburgs roaming these rooms, now that they are lined with tables and packed with people talking of Grüner Veltliner and Blaufränkisch, the merits of screwcap closures, and the conditions of the 2009 vintage. There are so many attractions that one needs to plan carefully to absorb as much as possible, even in three days.
The rooms are mapped to a regional theme, making it easy to taste as many Wachau whites as possible, then slip into Wagram and try to identify general differences. One can plan a journey from table to table in Burgenland, tasting only wines from the St. Laurent grape, or try to define the characters of the two primary red grapes of Austria: Zweigelt and Blaufränkisch. Then there are organized tastings, such as a breakfast tasting of the fresh, fruity white called Wiener Gemischter Satz, a “field blend” of at least three and up to twenty different grape varieties grown in Vienna’s vineyards and harvested and vinified all at the same time. Or the fascinating exposition of the “first growths” of Grüner Veltliner, which was really a wonderful way to see how Grüner ages, as we compared one recent and one older vintage from each vineyard.
Most important, though, was the opportunity to meet wine makers and see different approaches and philosophies. Blue Danube Austria was well represented (plus some of Hungary, Croatia, and Slovenia), showing the 2009 vintage. Connecting people and places to wine is perhaps the most satisfying way to enjoy it. In that sense—and many others—VieVinum was a success.
text & photo by Katherine Camargo, Camargo Wine Support LLC, © 2010